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Supreme Court: Poarch will not get immunity

Published 9:22am Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled on Friday the Poarch Band of Creek Indians should not be granted immunity from lawsuits filed in state courts.

The ruling comes on the heels of a petition filed by the Poarch Creek Indians contending that they have “sovereign immunity” in cases filed on the state ­level.

The petition filed by the Creeks was the result of a wrongful death suit filed on behalf of the family of Elfago Ramirez, who died in a two-car collision on Aug. 8, 2011, after leaving the Creek Casino Montgomery intoxicated.

The family contended the employees of the casino allegedly continued to furnish Ramirez alcohol knowing he was visibly intoxicated.

Sen. Bryan Taylor (R-Prattville) said the Creek Indians should be treated no differently than any other business which has an liquor license from the state ABC Board.

“State and local officials should take this decision very seriously and take action to exercise all appropriate regulatory and enforcement authority over the sale of alcohol at Poarch Creek businesses and casinos for the protection of Alabama citizens,” said Taylor, who has been a strong advocate for the state to be more assertive about its jurisdiction over the tribe.

While members of the State Supreme Court did not file any opinions as to why it ruled against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Chief Justice Roy Moore wrote that tribal immunity “is not a sword tribes may wield to victimize outsiders.”

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